Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023: P is for Podcasts

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Grant Tothill: “In 2023, Australia eclipsed the US in monthly podcast listening for the first time”

To wrap up 2023, Mediaweek is looking at the biggest trends, events, platforms, and brands of the year.

Welcome to Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023 … and beyond.

By Grant Tothill, executive head, LiSTNR Podcasts

Podcasts’ ability to tap into the Zeitgeist reached new heights in 2023, as Australia eclipsed the US in monthly podcast listening for the first time.

18 million Australians, or 81% percent of the population aged 12+, listen to digital audio monthly, up from 78% in 2022. And 43% of Australians listen to a podcast, or up to five podcasts, per month, with Australia’s no.1 podcast, Hamish & Andy, attracting almost one million monthly listeners. That is more than several other media channels could claim and demonstrates that a large swathe of our population does not need to rely solely on screens for their entertainment needs.

The beauty of podcasts is they’re personal – they are a lean in personal experience that’s completely your choice anywhere, anytime. Whether you want to escape, be informed, learn something new or just be entertained there’s a whole world of podcasts to choose from.

In 2024, there will be some interesting trends for podcasting, emanating from several areas including tech and content innovation.

The Podcasting in 2023 LiSTNR study of Australian monthly podcast listeners found that podcasts are an increasingly trusted advertising medium among Gen Z in particular, with one in four saying they believe podcast advertising is the best way for brands to reach them.

Audiences also trust podcasts, due to their authenticity and real people discussing their lives or recounting real life events. The study found that 67% listen to podcasts to be entertained, 58% to learn something new and 53% to be informed.

Gen Ys are the biggest consumers of podcasts and blue-collar workers are heavy podcast listeners spending almost two hours a day with podcasts, which is 25% higher than the average podcast listener.

These are the trends we see emerging next year.

Like many industries, podcasts will continue on the road to digital transformation and optimisation. There will be advances in audience data and ad tech along with the growth of podcast listening which will drive improved commercialisation of podcasts by creating improved data insights on audiences and greater accountability and attribution.

There are an estimated five million plus podcasts available globally, which creates a paradox of choice, and only the most impactful and relevant podcasts will capture the attention of a more discerning podcast audience next year.

As the Australian podcast market starts to mature, well established chat-based podcasts, such as It’s A Lot with Abbie Chatfield, will continue to drive audiences. New titles will struggle to find audiences against the backdrop of more established podcasts with strong fan bases.

In addition, audio journalism and long form storytelling will continue to attract audiences and grow in popularity due to the ever-decreasing trust factor audiences are developing with other mediums along with the current cycle of “sound grab” based short form news.

New podcast formats like audio drama and documentary-based formats will be limited due to the lack of investment by Australian podcast companies. Those that do invest, however, will drive new audiences and opportunity as podcast consumption continues to grow and audiences seek more fiction or non-fiction-based storytelling that interests them.

Radio show podcasts have really proven their popularity this year, growing at 83% weekly listening year on year. The secret to their success is formatting and creating bespoke content for podcast audiences. Radio podcasts will continue to grow in 2024 as pressure increases for media companies to gain greater opportunity to maximise their investment in talent and new streams of commercialisation.

Overall, the podcast industry will undergo some rationalisation throughout 2024 as media and podcast companies look to improve their commissioning processes to maximise audience growth and monetisation and look to have profitable podcast business units.

Top Image: Grant Tothill

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